Tug owner PSA Marine plans to further deploy smart navigation and remote support technology on harbour vessels
PSA Marine and Wärtsilä have completed autonomous tug technology sea trials and are committed to introducing this to daily terminal and harbour operations.
They worked with classification society Lloyd’s Register and the Technology Centre for Offshore and Marine Singapore (TCOMS) on the IntelliTug project, which was co-funded by Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore’s (MPA) Maritime Innovation and Technology (MINT) fund.
During 2019 and Q1 2020, autonomous tug technology was tested on harbour tug PSA Polaris during different scenarios and operations.
With its successful conclusion, PSA Marine says it intends to deploy it on more vessels.
Trials commenced in September 2019 to test Wärtsilä’s smart navigation technology for remotely operating vessels.
With assistance from PSA Marine’s tug masters, hundreds of test cases were carried out to verify the system’s aid in avoiding collisions in real-time.
This smart navigation system sends track and speed commands to an onboard dynamic positioning (DP) system, which drives the tug along a pre-determined route safely at varying speeds up to 10 knots.
These manoeuvres follow set behaviours and meet success criteria to enable vessels to reach their destination. This system also allows tug masters to view plotted routes and manually avoid collisions.
“PSA Marine is constantly innovating to redefine the capabilities of our tugs,” says PSA Marine managing director Peter Chew. He says the IntelliTug project’s success comes from its partnership with technology developers, class and MPA, who provided the test area and seafarers.
“With the incorporation of feedback and experience from our tug masters, the smart technology developed in the IntelliTug project augments our tug masters’ situational awareness and amplifies their capabilities,” he explains.
“We will continue to work closely with stakeholders and look forward to future developments of the project.” This involves further technology development with Wärtsilä and deploying IntelliTug’s smart capabilities in real-life harbour craft operations to complement and enhance the capabilities and experience of human tug masters.
Trials on PSA Polaris were Singapore’s first for testing commercial maritime autonomous surface ships (MASS) using MPA’s MASS regulatory sandbox. This was established to test MASS and other autonomous technologies in a safe and controlled environment within the Port of Singapore.
MPA assistant chief executive for operations Captain M Segar says IntelliTug trials were part of MPA’s MASS initiative to accelerate the industry’s research and development capabilities in this field and validate new MASS-related concepts of operations and technologies.
“It is critical we prepare the Port of Singapore for MASS,” he says. “With MPA’s MASS regulatory sandbox, I am glad Singapore can contribute to the sea trials and eventual adoption of MASS,” says Capt Segar. “We will be happy to share our MASS experience with other ports and coastal administrations.”
These trials will also enable Singapore’s technology developers and maritime community to benefit from future MASS-related opportunities.
Wärtsilä developed IntelliTug as part of its smart marine strategy that includes other navigation, manoeuvring and berthing technology.
“The IntelliTug project provides a clear picture of the potential this approach can unlock, to the ultimate benefit of owners and operators everywhere,” says Wärtsilä Singapore managing director Mervin Ong.
Before sea trials began, this technology and its integration was digitally tested using Wärtsilä’s autonomous ship simulator. TCOMS conducted further validation of the various data gathered from an onboard sensor suite.
TCOMS also verified real-world performance of PSA Polaris through a physics-based digital twin that incorporated the effects of the physical environment encountered in the sea trials. Lloyd’s Register supported development of IntelliTug trials’ safety case, while collaborating on the human factors and technology design processes.
PSA Marine – tug owner, tug masters
Wärtsilä – technology supplier, simulator tests
Maritime and Port Authority – MASS regulatory sandbox
MPA’s Maritime Innovation and Technology – co-finance
Technology Centre for Offshore and Marine Singapore – verification and testing
Lloyd’s Register – safety cases, human factors and technology verification